The First Programmable Music On The Blockchain
Sam Brukhman on Betty’s Notebook
Betty’s Notebook tells the story of Amelia Earhart’s demise through her supposed final distress calls, as recorded by 15 year-old Betty Klenck. After nearly 70 years of being brushed off, Betty and her notebook are finally getting the attention they deserve. Similarly, Verdigris Ensemble’s choral ensemble format is going through a genre revival of its own.
Historically, almost all choral music albums are not profitable. Organizations produce them because they believe the recordings will translate into future tours and other performance opportunities. The release of Betty’s Notebook marks a symbolic shift in mindset. And what more disruptive way to show this shift than through blockchain technology and NFTs?
The musical adaptation of Betty’s Notebook simulates what Betty Klenck heard as a 15 year-old in 1937. It's as if audiences literally sit in front of a Short Wave radio to try and hear Amelia Earhart’s distress calls, but are frequently obstructed by various radio interferences. The programmability of the work allows audiences to hear a holistic story from multiple perspectives, discovering new pieces of the mystery as different variants are toggled.Learn more about Betty’s Notebook programmability
About the work
Betty’s Notebook took a total of 3 years to fully workshop and develop, 215 hours to mix, 47 hours to record, and required 23 of the best artists around the country to ensure the highest artistic quality.
It took approximately three times as long as normal to record Betty’s Notebook. Singers were all required to receive a COVID test before the recording sessions. Recording sessions lasted 30 minutes with interspersed 15 minute breaks for HEPA filtration and airflow in the recording studio. The full 16-voice choir never sang together in the same session; groups of 8 singers would sing on top of a track the previous 8-voice ensemble recorded. The ensemble wore masks through the entirety of the recording sessions. COVID restraints required both producer Anthony J Maglione and artistic director Sam Brukhman to mix and master tracks remotely with sound engineer Tre Nagella. Despite these challenges, Betty’s Notebook is one of the most comprehensive works ever recorded by Verdigris Ensemble.
In a nutshell, Nicholas Reeves’s music adaptation of Betty’s Notebook is a simulation of what Betty Klenck heard as a teenager in 1937. It's as if audiences sit in front of a Short Wave radio trying to hear Amelia Earhart’s final distress calls that are frequently obscured by various radio interferences. As a programmable music piece, Betty’s Notebook invites audiences to become detectives in an ever-unfolding mystery surrounding Amelia Earhart. Stem owners reveal new variants that alter perspective to the story, from the large human views of Fred Noonan to the small echoes of a navy alarm bell. The Master Track NFT owner gets to experience these changes in real-time with a physical radio, displaying the art and music at will.View Full Analysis
Betty’s Notebook is a symbolic entrance into a new era for vocal experiences and art music. It is the first of its kind on the blockchain and pushes the boundaries of both the technology and its vocal instruments. It's sophisticated, yet approachable. Distressing, yet fascinating. Documentary, yet narrative. It is a fitting work that is worthy of a bright future in a museum. Or maybe something even bigger...